Governor Chris Christie will end his 75 day exile from the New Jersey press corps this afternoon at 2:30 with a press conference in his outer office.
Christie has not taken questions from the press since his January 9 marathon press conference about the revelations that members of his team had orchestrated the George Washington Bridge lane closures last September.
Yesterday the lawyers that Christie hired to investigate GWB lane closures and Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s allegations that he, through Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, threaten to withhold Sandy relief from Hoboken unless Zimmer secured a zoning approval for the Rockefeller Group, a client of Port Authority Chairman David Samson, released their findings. The report backed up Christie’s claims from his January 9 press conference that he had no involvement in the lane closures and Guadagno’s denial of Zimmer’s allegations. The investigation cost New Jersey taxpayers roughly $1 million.
The report blamed Christie’s former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Ann Kelly and his former #2 at Port Authority David Wildstein for the GWB lane closures and concluded that the widely speculated motive for the lane closures…political retribution against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich…did not make sense. The report says the motive for the lane closures remains a mystery. Kelly’s termination from Christie’s staff was announced at the January 9 press conference, the day after her “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” email to Wildstein became public.
The report said that Bill Stepien, Christie’s political strategist until January 9, and Bill Baroni, a former State Senator and Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of NY/NJ until his resignation in December had knowledge of the GWB lane closures while they were happening, but not of the ulterior motive for them.
Kelly replaced Stepien as Deputy Chief of Staff when he left the government payroll to lead Christie’s reelection campaign. The report confirmed a widely spread rumor that Kelly and Stepien had a personal relationship. The relationship ended, at Stepien’s behest, prior to the GWB lane closures, according to the report.
Kelly, Stepien and Wildstein, each believed to be under investigation by the U.S. Attorney for their involvement in the GWB lane closures, did not participate in the investigation that resulted in the report. Baroni and Samson were also not interviewed during the investigation.
While it is unlikely that any reporter will have thoroughly reviewed the entire 600 plus, including exhibits and appendices, page report , they are likely to be tougher on the Governor than ABC’s Diane Sawyer was in her broadcast last night.